Welcome to Sauk Valley Community College. At Sauk, we are dedicated to teaching and scholarship and engage our Sauk Valley communities in lifelong learning, public service, and economic development.
Located on the beautiful Rock River, the College is a vibrant collection of educators who create inspiring and supportive environments where every student and every community partner is valued.
Stop by and let us assist you in becoming the next Sauk Success.
- Dr. Dave Hellmich
Dave began his tenure as the President of Sauk Valley Community College in July of 2015. He serves on the Board of the Dixon Area Chamber of Commerce, KSB Hospital, Rock River Hospice and Home, and the Sauk Valley Community Leadership Program.
Prior to coming to SVCC, he served for 28 years as an administrator and English professor at community colleges in Florida, Minnesota, and Kentucky. Dave has taught graduate courses in ethical leadership in Minnesota and Kentucky, and he is the editor of and contributing author for Ethical Leadership in Community Colleges: Bridging Theory and Daily Practice.
He earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from DePauw University, his Master of Arts in American Literature from Indiana University, and his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Florida.
His wife Linda is a clinical psychologist; he and Linda are parents of three wonderful adult daughters and have two even-more-wonderful grandchildren. Dave is the fourth of eleven children and grew up in a small Indiana town. He is a cyclist and a life-long Packer fan.
Members of the President's Cabinet
- EmmaLea Bittner
Assistant to the President and Board of Trustees
- Joe Strabala-Bright
Director of Research and Planning
Joe started at Sauk as an Academic Advisor in the TRIO Student Support Services program in the fall of 2014. In the fall of 2018, he became the college’s Director of Research and Planning. He is also a board member of PFLAG Sauk Valley, a member of the Sterling Main Street Board, and currently serves as President of the Whiteside County Senior Center and Public Transportation Board.
Joe began his career in higher education by serving as a Community Outreach Worker in the Sauk Valley region with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. He graduated from Augustana College with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science (International Relations) and International Business (Finance) in 2013. In 2017, he received his Masters of Public Administration degree with an emphasis in Strategic Public Management and Leadership from Northern Illinois University.
Although he no longer works with students in an advising capacity, he maintains an active presence at Sauk by serving as a member of the Single Parent Scholarship Committee and the Chris Byar Memorial Student Assistance Fund. He also continues to help as a Success Coach for Sauk students and serves as a co-advisor for the P.R.I.D.E. club.
Joe is a lifelong resident of the Sauk Valley region. Currently, he resides in Sterling with his fiancé Keegan and their cat Eva.
- Dr. Lori Cortez
Dean of Institutional Advancement
In 2014, Lori was welcomed to Sauk Valley Community College as the Director of TRIO Student Support Services. In 2016, Lori began her role of Dean of Foundation, Grants, and Government Relations. In 2018, her role expanded to include marketing.
Lori’s tenure in community colleges dates back to her days as a student at Delta College, where she earned her associate's degree. She subsequently earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in History, and her Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from Central Michigan University.
In 2008, Lori began her role as an adjunct instructor for Mid Michigan Community College where she continues to teach online. Lori is currently President of the Whiteside County Senior Center and Transportation Center.
In 2009, Lori married her high school sweetheart who is a Learning Designer at Saint Leo University. They reside in Sterling and together, they enjoy fine arts and community events.
- Eric L. Epps
Dean of Information and Security
In his 10 years at Sauk, Eric has served in Information Services, developing the website and integrating software systems prior to assuming leadership of the area in 2017. As Dean of Information and Security, he is responsible for the College's computing and technology infrastructure as well providing leadership for emergency preparedness, physical security, and cyber security.
Eric earned a Bachelor of Science in Business from Pensacola Christian College in 2001 and a Master of Education in Digital Learning and Leading from Lamar University in December 2018.
A lifelong resident of the Sauk Valley area, Eric resides in Rock Falls with his wife Robyn, two sons, and daughter. He is a member of the Rock Falls Rotary and serves on the boards of the Blackhawk Hills Regional Council and Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce.
- Dr. Jon Mandrell
Vice President of Academics and Student Services
Dr. Jon Mandrell serves as the Vice President of Academics and Student Services at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, Illinois, where he is the Chief Academic Officer (CAO) and Chief Student Services Officer (CSSO). In this role, he provides leadership to the college’s academic departments and Student Services. His previous roles include serving as the Dean of Instructional Services and also as a Criminal Justice faculty member at Sauk Valley. Prior to his community college career, he served as a police officer in Oregon, Illinois. He holds an Ed.D. in Community College Leadership from Ferris State University and a Master of Arts degree in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration from Western Illinois University.
- Kathryn Snow
Director of Human Resources
Kathryn Snow began her employment in 2004 as the Director of Human Resources. She is a member of the Dixon Kiwanis.
Prior to coming to SVCC, Kathryn worked for 16 years as a human resource professional in the not-for-profit and private industries.
Kathryn is a graduate of Black Hawk East Community College with an A.A.S. and A.A. degree, and Western Illinois University with a Bachelor of Business.
- Kent Sorenson
Vice President of Business Services
Kent joined the Sauk team in 2019. In his role as Vice President of Business Services and Board Treasurer, he provides leadership over the College's fiscal operations, including coordination of the College's annual budget, financial reporting, purchasing, cash management, grant reporting and compliance, and financial risk management. Kent grew up in the Sauk Valley, obtained a Master of Accountancy from Northern Illinois University, and has been a CPA in Illinois since 2012. Kent is a member of the Illinois CPA Society's Governmental Executive Committee and enjoys coaching his daughter's youth soccer team.